The controversy over whether negligence by the state government led to the catastrophic floods in Bihar continued on Wednesday with the Rashtriya Janata Dal accusing the Nitish Kumar administration of giving out “misleading” information about the condition of embankments along the Kosi river in the days immediately prior to the flood.
“There was a human error. The Bihar government had 14 days to prevent a devastation of this magnitude, but it failed to take any step,” said RJD leader and Union Minister of State for Water Resources Jai Prakash Narayan Yadav.
Similarly, in Patna, E Satya Narain, the former chief engineer of the state water resources department at Birpur in Nepal — close to where the breach in the Kosi occurred, sparking off the floods — alleged he had been transferred for blowing the whistle on the government’s indifference to the repeated warnings he had been sending in the days before the breach.
“I kept sending wireless messages to the Flood Control Cell, bosses in Patna and the Bihar government’s liasion officer in Kathmandu from August 6, but nothing was done till the bundh collapsed on August 18,” he said.
Yadav pointed out that the daily bulletins of the Bihar Water Resources Ministry had even on August 16 and 17 — the breach occurred on August 18 — claimed all embankments under its jurisdiction were safe. It later said the situation could not be controlled because local Nepalese created a law and order problem, driving out the officials.
“The Bihar government is shying away from its responsibility,” said Yadav.
In the case of Satyanarain, however, records show his transfer orders were issued on August 5, well before he sent his warnings.
Centre offers to plug breach
The Centre has offered assistance to the Bihar government to fix up the Bheem barrage on the Kosi where the breach took place.
Cabinet secretary KM Chandrasekhar, leading a high-level delegation to the state, has offered the help of army engineers and Border Roads Organisation personnel to repair the barrage.
The CM had asked the Centre for more army columns for rescue work. He had also requested for additional sorties by air force cargo planes delivering relief material. As of now the, army has over 4,600 troops in the state. On Wednesday, IAF flew in 100 more Navy divers.
With inputs from Binod Dubey, Patna and Rahul Singh, Delhi